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and she said, you ought to read it. i've got a lot of books on -- i started this book, and i'll have to start it again because i forgot some of what i read in the first part, but these books will keep my occupied this summer. >> tell us what you're reading this summer. send us a tweet @booktv. ..
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with the help of a lot of other friends and, of course, the family. i did not ever have the pleasure of knowing mark. many people knew him well, but i knew tony well. he would have been very happy, i think, to see his friends and colleagues gathering to do what we are here this evening to do. i guess a seasonally teamed question one might ask is how is this award ceremony different from all other words armadas? [laughter] and part of the answer is that
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we make the awardees sing for their supper and the form of having a panel discussion with a distinguished moderator who this year it is taylor branch. the reason we do that specifically has to do with tony who felt that particularly in nonfiction writing there was not enough of a structured conversation about our craft, and there needs to be more. so we used this program as a pretext to do that. in the, arlene has spread this concept to several of our other award ceremonies as well. it reminds us all of why we are giving these awards in addition to honoring outstanding achievement is to china to, and i think we have succeeded in doing this, create a community
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of people who do this kind of work who care about this kind of work and are always in days in thinking about how it can be done better. there are several former winners in the audience. i see diane. in the other winners? so that is proof that this is not just one evening in your life. this is -- you're always invited. it is part of a conversation that goes on through the years. i want to just mention also that this event is co-sponsored by the foundation at harvard. tommy -- tony was a fellow. the columbia journalism school. the foundation director, curator as they're called, some strange harvard reason.
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robert giles. this is his last year as curator of the foundation, and so i want to toast him with my palms, springs water. he will come up in a minute for a wonderful run and best wishes -- wishes for his future. next year, of course, you will be at cambridge ceremony, but also your wonderful successor, formerly editor of the chicago tribune, will be there presiding. so that is, you know, it is always a tribute to somebody who is a leader if they can attract a great successor and make the job looked easy and fun, which you have done. since you and i both have to raise money you know that every time it seems like to talk to a daughter they say i want you to partner with another institution. [laughter]
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honestly, this is a case where being partners has been fun and easy. that is incredibly rare. thanks, bob, for everything over these years. i am going to introduce, though not welcome to the stage, taylor branch. he will come up and do most of the hosting duties in a couple minutes. i don't really need to introduce him very much. you all have read his work and know who he is. he is known first and foremost as the author of the definitive biography of dr. martin luther king jr. spread out over three volumes and just completed. we think it's soon to be an hbo series, but even without that it
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is a really monumental piece of life achievement. i happen to know a lot of other things. i could go on and on. for instance, nobody here may know this, but he and i have this same high-school american history teaches. different higher schools at different times. a man named immigrate junior who set us off on our course in life. later we both worked as yang oppressed journalists from the washington monthly, which was kind of our journalism school. and so i have been reading taylor's work my whole life. there is a lot of it that is wonderful, besides the monumental king biography. one other thing i will not about taylor is that his very rare
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happenstance and life as a journalist, and his gender days he had a thankless political organizing assignments, which is running the george mcgovern presidential campaign in texas. [laughter] he was co-director, and the other co-director was bill clinton. so another strand in his career has been the clinton strand. and he just wrote a book about a long series of very searching and private interviews that he had with president clinton while he was president, probably the most, you know, real-time access any president has ever given a journalist with the possible exception of edmund morrison, and it drove him mad. still here and in one piece. so you'll be seeing him in a minute. before exiting the stage i'm going to present the j. anthony
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lukas book award, presented to a book-length work of american nonfiction on an american topic that exemplifies the literary grace cannot commit serious research, and the social concern that characterized the distinguished work of the award's namesake. it is awarded this year to eliza griswold for "the tenth parallel." the publisher is. [inaudible] let me read the citation. i'll tell you why she isn't here. a very good excuse. she examines the conflict between christianity and islam along the geographic line 700 miles north of the equator where the to believes most frequently collide. more than half the world's most live along this line as. ♪ to percent of the world's christians.
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be if the written and impressively reported, this is a brilliantly originally constructed and examine one of the most important perhaps the most important conflicts of the world today. elisa is currently in pakistan where she is kind of tied down by advance. they're as a journalist and is being advised not to move for obvious reasons. so we salute her an absence and invite her editor. come on up and get the award on her behalf. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, and thank you to the sponsor of the award. eliza is in pakistan. and if i know her she is somehow chasing the story.
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the aftermath is something that will have an effect on the ground there. if anyone can get the story, eliza griswold can. the book that we -- she gave the subtitle dispatches from the fall line between christianity and islam as the title "the tenth parallel" for the line that she followed in the book, but it could just as well have had the title common ground. the drama that she is working out of the book is very similar to the one that is worked out in the classic book. people of very different beliefs with similar geographic space. religious strife in israel and grim, but the long history of every day encounters of believers of different kinds children of things together, even if they follow different
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faces no less real. bear witness to the systems of the two religions and the complicated bids for power inside them. the conflict between them. a poet, a commentator, a fellow, but above all i think she identified with the tribe of journalists. recognize and honors. i think she would be very grateful to be here, delighted to be here herself to receive this prize. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> don't forget. [laughter] i want to also recognize three finalists for the same award, that j. anthony lukas book prize. some are here and some are not, but here they come.
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jefferson, finalists for staying alive, 1970's and the last days of the working-class. c-span2 created a model for how to talk about both political and cultural transformations without shortchanging either. he traces how a public of anxiety over ticket public of security in the united states combining a but the with passion. makes understanding is called and condescension. americans living in 2011 will understand themselves far better because of his brilliant excavation of the 1970's. come on up. [applause] [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> i do feel moved. when i received a phone call about this prize i was particularly moved. i received several academic awards or prizes for this book, but so receive something named after anthony lukas on a book about the 1970's in which his shadow was cast with the book common ground and labor history in which his but big trouble also casts a big set up was particularly daunting. but extraordinarily rewarding. there are certain voices that one hears when one writes. anthony lukas was one. i'm very humbled to receive this award. thank you. [applause] [applause]
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>> next finalist his paul greenberg. the future of the last while food. ♪ has written everything but the ticket from the outer banks to japan to norway in pursuit of the good fish, self sustaining, plentiful, tasty comanche. taught was such a fish and to commercial fishing lives like a contender for a while. tuna, the fourth fish will never be any of those things except for tasty. the number one example of what not seek. his case for environmental response will fishing industry and 39 for all is both highly readable and very important. come on up. [applause] [applause] >> i'll say a word to.
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i am really glad to see fish recognized in the general scheme of things. often their under water, and is really no coincidence that there are not recognized. but you know, there are many fish in the sea. can't talk about all of them in a few seconds, but i want to leave you with one thing which is that this year is the greatest battle that fish had ever encountered, and that is, as i speak a huge mining consortium is preparing to turn the largest remaining salmon run on earth into a superfund site. it is a run of 40 million sockeye a year, 60 million total salmon, but there is unfortunately a $300 billion gold and copper deposit underneath this run. in the years ahead, as people like anglo-american us try to turn our food systems into mining systems and will
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extraction systems, we have to ask yourself, do we want to fill our tanks up, do we want to make telephone cable or do we want to eat? so if i could leave you with one thing i would say stoppable minds. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> last finalist is luther. also was just awarded the pulitzer prize. the emperor of all maladies, a biography of cancer. the compelling and eliminating story, a cancer is the central character. willful, unpredictable, mysterious, and resistant. a history of cancer from the earliest mention in 2500 b.c. to the development of various therapies and treatments and 20th and 21st centuries, including some notable successes in many notable failures.
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the book tells the story of human ingenuity, perseverance, compassion, and hubris paternalism and misspent money and false optimism. he is not here, just by coincidence we happen to have the four books we are honoring the two were the editors made a really big behind the scenes contribution and happen to be the two were the authors could not be here. so i would like to welcome the publisher to the stage to accept. [applause] [applause] >> i just want to say really correctly that said really would have loved to have been here tonight. i did call him this morning. i said, so, have you read tony lucas? he, of course, said to me as to my was inspired. common ground exemplifies a small history later vast which
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is what it has done as well. thank you very much, all of you. [applause] [applause] >> bob child is coming up next to presents the lynton prize. before i leave i would just say, the last time i ever saw tony we had lunch, the purpose of which was for him to trick me into a green to do a study for the authors guild of which she was president on mid list books and how they work economically. and his last words to me were, so, great, you'll do it. by. so we did it. it is amazing to me. i would say that the quality of reported nonfiction coming out today is year and year out as
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high as i can ever remember it being. it is a real bright spot in journalism. i learned something from doing the report for tony. we always talk about the new business model for news, which is right over the next hill. the business model for this kind of book is pure willpower and love and determination. but there is a lot of it on the part of the publishers, the writer's command the editors. that is why we are in such a wonderfully prolific time in this part of journalism. it is a great thing. bob, come on up and take over. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, and thank you for that nice sendoff. as a graduate of the school is has been fun for me to be able to agree engage with the journalism school in this way and for the lehman foundation.
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it has been a good thing for us to become a partner in organizing and presenting odd years hosting of this. the mark lynton prize is awarded for a book-length work of art history on any subject at best combines intellectual or stolie distinction an expression. the judges decided that the award should go this year, the history prize should be awarded to isabel wilkerson fort "the warmth of other suns," the epic story of americans great migration published by random house. the certificates says isabel wilkerson has created a brilliant and innovative paradox, the intimate epic.
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added smaller scale this towering work rests on a trio of unforgettable biographies. each of the three main characters began life in various corners of the post emancipation south. in different decades and for different reasons each left the land of their ancestors and headed north and west along with millions of fellow travelers in a powerful lyrical prose that combines the historians record with the novelist and the. his books change is our understanding of the great migration and, indeed, the modern united states. please come and get the award. [applause] [applause]
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the judges named one finalist, patrick wilcken. it was elegantly written. he follows strauss from his early fieldwork in brazil through his career in paris as one of the world's most celebrated thinkers. along the way he provides us with brilliant perspective of structuralism, the movement that was lost as well as an incisive and apology of french intellectual culture. his valuable book tells us what it means to be intellectual and what it means to be an intellectual historian. patrick? [applause] [applause]
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>> thank you very much. this award. someone was saying to me just earlier talking about studying in the 60's and how and penetrable his work was and citing mathematical formula that he came up with that involved skunk over peas to the-1. i have to say i did mention that in the book. my editor edited that out. but, really, there was a lot. i have just come from brazil. he worked closely in brazil. he left a very, very evocative portrait of indigenous people in brazil, and i have to say that i am working on some of the people who he studied in the 1930's and
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'40's and left a very moving portrait which was his most successful book. and still today these people are really struggling against a very, very harsh circumstances, violence, discrimination, and they think that he is often seen as a very kind of difficult to understand intellectual, he did leave this legacy, this very passionate defense of indigenous people on the brink. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> thank you. and now pleased to welcome taylor branch you will present the work in progress toward an early discussion with their winners. >> thank you. i want to think columbia journalism school for hosting
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this event. all of the sponsors and c-span for being here. i hope there will be a will to see it from beyond this room. i have only two things to say quickly before presenting this award. one, i was happy that linda called me because she and tony used to come and go to orioles games in baltimore. i had season tickets. tony and i had this same matter. and test the work in progress was a discussion of our who would later on the deadline. and we had many, many refinements on that discussion, but we stuck with it. the only other thing i want to say is that i'm leaving here tomorrow to go home to the atlanta to finish, i hope, an oral history with my mother. i encourage all of you to do oral histories with yourselves, your relatives, your family, not just for is bills work or
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anybody else's, but for the sake of your family. oral history has been a wonderful tool of the career, but it is also a family exercise that will help knit us together. now to this award, work in progress -- bill lucas committee has awarded the award this year to -- for his book "big little man". alex tizon takes readers on a journey that is a deep exploration of what is meant to be a man of asian descent in the western world from the earliest days of asian migration.
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beginning with an account of his family's arrival in the united states and filipino immigrants in 1964, he is creating what promises to be an elegantly constructed and deeply personal work of sociological observation that explores the historical, psychological, and economic underpinnings of a stereotype so deeply imbedded in western culture that asian man believed it themselves. alex tizon. [applause] [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> and we have two finalists here.
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first, joe mozingo. i hope i pronounced that correctly. published by simon and schuster. while many authors have given us eliminating works on race in america, joe mozingo appears headed toward his own wonderfully crafted achievement. the author informs us it is one of the few if only african surnames to survive slavery in america. most american, however, are now white. according to their chronicler year, some are fiercely racist and harbor all sorts of myths about their origins. now joe mozingo plans to tie down the african part of his search for the history of his surname. the judge is expected his project to result in an excellent singular work of nonfiction. joe mozingo. [applause]
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[applause] >> low, since i haven't written the book yet my comment to thank you very much. wonderful. it is difficult to do this type of research and so expensive. i just, this is a wonderful thing, and i am deeply honored. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> and the other finalist is florence williams. in brass we discover that talks is associated with lower iq, lower immunities, behavioral problems, and higher risks of breast cancer often contaminate breast milk. how at million of years of
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evolution and environmental change transformed such an explicit and mysterious gift of nature into a worn down machine haunted by the pressures of maternity. [laughter] and her uniquely fresh and quick witted and intimate voice williams proposes to tackle it deadly serious underlying question, the burden of modern life threatening the continuing evolution of our species as a whole. florence williams. [applause] [applause] >> as paul greenberg said, it is nice to see fish recognized. also nice to see grass recognized. i think press did a lot of attention, but not always on the stage of the columbia journalism
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school. [laughter] my book is really an environmental history of a body part. it is really nice that to environmental books have been honored tonight and are in the pain of tony lucas. i am very honored and would like to thank the lucas committee and my agent to is your and my editor from norton for believing in this book. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> well, if our discussions lag we might invite florence back out. [laughter] we are here to bridge a topic in more than one way. alex's book is not done yet. we know the topic. something of the crafts, but we don't have the product. isabel's book is out. their on two widely different
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subjects, the african-american migration in the united states over the course of 60 years, and the identities of asian immigrants in the broadest and most historical sense. but what we are really here to talk about is the craft of creating the kind of nonfiction that tony lucas did, which has special challenges of being especially ambitious, difficult and taking a long time. and i want to open -- we just want to have some dialogue about the craft and then take some questions from you from the microphones very briefly. isabel, i want to ask you a question right off the bat. your book is both broad and very intimate, as the citation said, i was planning to use that word myself. did you ever think of doing one or the other? or were your results to do blend from the beginning? that is a broad history of the migration together with intimate portraits of chosen
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representatives? >> i resolved to do both because i felt there was no way to capture the whole of this experience without first having a narrative in which the reader would be carried through the journeys of these people as if they were these people themselves. and then i needed to have three people coming from different experiences, different states in the south following the three different tracks, migration during three different decades and having the reader follow them through the course of that narrative as it unfolded in their own lives, the lives of these people. but those stories in and of themselves would have been random experiences of ordinary people, had there not been the context and the background and history to give meaning to this is is that there were making. therefore there had to be this blend of folks. i was obviously influenced and inspired by common ground. i have a trilogy of
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protagonists, as he did. the book deals with many of the same issues that his book did. as a matter of fact, i teach at boston university in the same classroom where he taught. so this is so very special to me. just so you know, the room attracts people. stevens always are coming into that room. something very spiritual about that room. it is as if they know that he has been there. and so the meeting of the decisions of the people had to come from the archival work and all of the additional work that had to go. former journalist. i mean, it started as journalism because i approached it as a journalist and from an anthropological expedition into the lives of people. and then it became history once the people passed away and suddenly journalism becomes history of the stories become archival, and i had to look at
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that. i ended up using a structure, the grapes of wrath because the grapes of wrath, while about fiction and is a masterpiece and i'm not comparing it in that way, but the structure was great -- quite useful to me because i needed to have a way to incorporate that contextual material, that background which has given meaning to the lives that were being described here. but without it intruding into the narrative itself. in other words, not to have some important and significant fact intrude upon the moment, a special moment that was occurring as the narrative was unfolding. so into chapters. i find that to be a lovely way to be able to keep the writing of a certain level if and not interrupt the narrative as it was unfolding. >> that raises a lot of issues. would get into some of them later. a little unfair that your book
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is already gone. i can't speak for alex's since it is not done. i do want to say at the outset that her work is a great work of art. if you haven't read it, you should. it is quite transporting. we will come back to some of those issues. want to raise an issue to you. also on the very general nature. narrative nonfiction is difficult enough. you during narrative nonfiction with the first-person narrator. in other words, putting yourself in the story. was that unnecessary choice, our tourist? what problems does it raise for you in the construction of a book like this? the narrative nonfiction in the first person is relatively rare in the genre. >> that was a multi part question, and i have trouble with multi-party questions. i'm going to just go with the first part of your question.
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i just want to say thank you so much. thank you for having a work in progress award. thank you so much. such a great affirmation. i fully expected to have a small audience for this book and to receive this kind of award from these organizations is such encouragement to continue one. thank you. thank you. thank you. first, the decision to go first person is very difficult. it is a vulnerable topic to begin with. to write it in the first person, i felt like i have a five month old ball retriever to relax ticket on his back and just open up his legs. as vulnerable as he possibly
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could be. simply opening myself up without being too confessional about it. and so there is this fine line you have to walk when you're writing first person. you want to be -- you want to be personal without going too much into private areas. i think that is something that i learned from our brighter in oregon named barry lopez who i consider one of my mentors, one of the keys to writing for him is to write in a personal way without being too private, delving too much into private areas. and it was difficult for me to decide, especially with this topic. but i think that if i had attempted this topic without using the first person it ran the risk of becoming just another kind of sociological yak
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peace about race and particularly about the asian male experience. i felt like it needed a face. i guess my face was as good as any. [laughter] >> there is one personal, you have a couple of personal references in your book. it is mostly a third person boat. one in particular that i want to mention because my mother, as i do in the oral history, has an night miniseries that just bloomed, and she says it was occasion for her agreeing to do -- and you mentioned a night blooming in the book. how did that deserve to get in there? wonderful story. >> rock, first of all, i should preface this by saying i interviewed over 1200 people for this book. that meant primarily it was the casting exercise. in other words, i was looking for the three people who would
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ultimately become the protagonists of this book. i went to senior centers. i went to catholic churches in los angeles where everyone is from louisiana, baptist churches in brooklyn where everyone was from south carolina. i went to a great deal of trouble to narrow it down. however, during the course of of this are realize that i had not actually heard my own family story, and i set out to also make sure that i had talked with my own parents who had been part of this great migration. my mother had come from rome, georgia to washington d.c. i like to tell people that she had come from rome. people say, wow, she is from rome. [laughter] while. and then i say georgia and they say, zero. and my father comes from virginia, from southern virginia to washington d.c. which is where they met. had they not been part of the great migration, i wouldn't have existed. and realize that i spend a lot
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of time understanding and has spent more time with other people's parents and grandparents than i had with my own. i realize that i needed to talk with them. my toughest interview by far was my mother. i absolutely did not want to talk. this was a generation of people in the class of people alternately all of them, the only reason why, under appreciated part of american history is because the people themselves did not talk about it. it didn't even tell their own children about it. every reference to my family in this book, and there are not very many of them because i felt that the story needed to be about the whole, these three people represent the 6 million, and i didn't want it to be considered something so personal a tommy are my family. but i did not know any of the things that are in the book that are about my family before beginning work on the book, and i think that is a stunning thing when you realize the have been raised by these people and had not known.
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the story of the night swimming series came by accident. my mother let slip the story. i found it ridding when she told me about it. i happened to have some possibly go lilies on the living room coffee table. she happened to see them and said they're reminded her of the night lemme serious that her mother had room. she proceeded to tell the story. the story was that this is a gangly orphan of a plan to that exists primarily for the singular moments, sometime in the middle of the night on a day ahead cannot be foretold and tell -- unless you're watching it very carefully. blend the beautiful lily like bloom in the middle of the night. you have to be watching carefully in order to see it. in other words it blooms when no one is around.
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and her mother happens, my grandmother happened to be in rome, georgia, wonderful gardner, apparently known for roses and others. and she would watch this thing and wait. it was apparently not very pleasant to look at. 365 days of the year it was horrible to look at until this one moment. and so she would tell people that she would go and she would tell amanda poindexter and nelson and others, but none of these people that i knew before my mother told the story. her night blooming cereus was about to bloom. if you want to see it you should come by at midnight and we can wait and watch with sweet tea and homemade vanilla ice cream. that is what they did. i remember that because that was one of the rituals of growing up in the south that she has to forgo when she made this great leap of faith as the 6 million
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people who are part of this migration, which is similar to the lead by faith that any group of people, whether they're coming from europe or across the atlantic or across the rio grande or cross the pacific, everyone has to make -- all of us are descended, most of us are descended from someone who had to make a difficult decision and to leave not just the harshness of their lives that might have propelled them, but also the lovely moment, the recollection. she remembers those steamy summers, summer nights in a rome, georgia, on a given street where they waited and waited. that would be the one time my mother would let me sit on the porch while these people are waiting. at the moment it would open, and it took awhile, it was said that you could see the face of baby jesus and the blooms. and when it opened my grandmother's friends with all compete to say that they could see it. no, there it is right there. and my mother said she never sought.
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[laughter] she never side. she told that story, and i decided to include that in a book as the things they left behind. >> wonderful story. alex, another choice that you made that i would like to ask you about has to do with gender, asian immigrants in the united states obviously of both genders. you're focusing on one. is that for journalistic reason or because you are of that gender? and how was that made? >> well, you write about what you know. [laughter] but it was a deliberate decision to focus and on main partly because i think that the stories of asian women, asian women, particularly in asia had been explored. if you could will books on the
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asian mystique of the mystique of asian women you will come across scores of books. but if you pool books on asian men -- kugel books on asian man, very few books. i think it was a story that i could tell and was a story that i could tell with personal insight and i could -- my story serves as, sort of, the skeletal outline for the story i am trying to tell. so if there is a memoir element to it. the memoir is only a portal and sued the issues that i'm going to try to address. it helps to have a face attached to the general idea is that of the talking about. >> just from what is in the proposal of what you're saying,
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you're visiting places and they take you to places that are residence from asian history, but it is not necessarily interviewing lots of asians in the communities in that united states. it is not a methodology. >> that's correct. the book has a memoir tone to it. i'm calling it a sociological more i am trying to do what isabela already did, which is to tell a specific story and then to enter weave within the specific stories the context, the larger context, the history. for example, my first chapter -- my first chapter is about a trip that i took to a tiny island in the philippines. for those of you that have never been there, the philippines as a nation of 7,000 islands.
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many of them are just rocks from the ocean. i took a trip. i happened upon this one island where ferdinand magellan, the great explorer, the great portuguese explorer was killed. i bet there is no single person in this room besides my two daughters you could tell me the name of the warrior who killed ferdinand magellan i would like to tell the story. ron lapin the united states i sought no images, certainly no statues, read no accounts of anybody who looked like me or who resembled my history as being worthy of praise, worthy of recognition.
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and for me to go to this island and tell the story of the warrior who killed ferdinand magellan, for me it was important for me to actually stand on the sand where the battle took place. i don't know if i can fully explain why. it was an affirmation to a certain degree that man that look like me did have strength, could stand up, could fight, and could win. that was a message said i did not grow up knowing. i did not know that going out. >> thank you. it will take questions after just one more. to reach the c-span readers, even though we may not need them, please stand up. i want to ask you one other
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thing on the methodology in the interviews you did, you say 1200 interviews. this is a very, very personal question. how did you know you didn't need 1200 and one? eric is a tendency here to always think that the next interview is vital. >> that is why i got to that many. that was -- many people considered it to be of no way more than necessary. i knew that i had gone enough when i had a core group of about 30 people, any of whom could have been the three. and one of them in particular -- it is interesting. the methodology is well thought out, they know, i had the three major destination cities in the north. the three major places of the south. three different decades, the king for a variety of
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socio-economic situation is for all of them. and yet when it came down to making the decisions i really needed to make sure that there was a connection somehow. none of the places that actually went led me to directly to the people that i ended up with, but there were all necessary to the process. and i went to so many places in los angeles, for example. all kinds of louisiana club said los angeles where people maintain their connection to their experiences and hometowns. there are places where many people who are of real dissent will gather together. i discovered all these entire underground people who had recreated their experiences in louisiana and texas in los angeles. it just seemed that the more i discovered them the more i went to them the more i found. and i went to some many of them that i went to this one place. a woman recognized me from one
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of the other places i had been. i have seen you and so many of these places, heard the questions. talk to so many people, i have heard you do this, listen to what they said to you. and i think i have the perfect person for you. whenever you hear that your thinking, well, there is no way you could really know. i'm a journalist, and you're not. you're being helpful, and i appreciate it, but you don't think that is the way you would find anyone. i was grateful and took the name. that did nothing much would come of it because it is sort of like someone matching you up on a blind date and they couldn't possibly know what you really want. i met with this person. he was a physician who was in this very grand home in los angeles of crenshaw, and he met me at the door. he insisted upon my -- on server
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meet -- serving a 11-pound cake on rosenthal china which i did not really want which insisted that i have. he then proceeded to begin to tell me a little bit of himself. i listened and asked questions. then ultimately he said to me, i would love to talk. i love to talk. i am my favorite subjects. at that point i realize that i really didn't need that 1200 and one. i have found. [laughter] >> this is one of our three characters. in the view that may be ray charles fans and know the song hide nor hair, if dr. foster has got it, he's tough medicine and money to, written about her character. dr. foster. one last question. he is not the most emotive character to me because i think
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qaeda may, the other two. however, your portrait of him is in some ways more searing in his honesty because here is a person who is the epitome of someone who made it in the migration to the many, many. and yet in many respects he is his own worst enemy. dr. king made a phrase once a long time ago saying, we bear all the vulnerabilities of a status to start people. when you get some status it's like you can never get enough. that seemed to be one of his great. and you portray that. it is really an aching portrait of somebody who has it made but nothing is ever enough for him. in that sense he is kind of a tragic character. that is really a literary portrait. do you know a lot of dr. foster's? have you ever met anybody like that?
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>> i have to say that i have never met anyone quite like camp. he is a doctor who, you know, at certain times, you know, the interview would have to be over for the afternoon because he had to make it. he was truly singular in that way. but i have to say that in some ways i think that there is a lesson for all of us who love narrative nonfiction because he is an example of how we really are seeking characters, protagonists who are fully formed a human beings, for all their flaws and strength see is someone who overtime made himself and his full self available to me to be able to portray. it took time, effort, you know, taking into the race track. i actually took cam. going with him to the hospital. there would be times when i would arrive. instead of seeing him in his home, he would be in the hospital. really difficult days.
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and yet he was a vulnerable figure. he was a strong figure. he was a wildly successful person who seems never to be able to achieve enough to satisfy whenever logging he had within him. and so in that way he is a universal figure, not merely representative of any particular group forecast for race in this country, but he represents, you know, the vulnerabilities and all of us, and i think in that way he is an enduring character, which is what we are seeking to do in narrative nonfiction. a gift to be able to find an individual such as c or the other to through whom we can understand a different part of ourselves. >> i wish we could talk about the other two, but i don't think we have time. are there questions? yes, sir. the question? >> i hope it is okay if the judge asks the question. if not stop me right now. i was the chair of the
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work-in-progress award and founded a very working -- moving experience. getting the finished product, not thinking a lot about what went into it, kind of assuming that this is the book the other wanted to write, not just the but the author could afford to write. i was moved by a lot of the explanations of how i've won't be able to do the book i want to write if i don't get more money. and may have to give up this book or may have to truncated in a way that i don't want. after the experience i thought, you know, there should be and nonfiction bank, like a goldman sacks nonfiction bank. you apply. 45,000. i could do a really good book and the 205,000, so-so. but i wanted to ask you this crass question about the relationship of money to the kind of book you can do. just give you two examples without naming names. i remember one proposal,
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$100,000 advance. but i'm going to need this to be able to do it right. my reaction was, just go to the library, read the seven books on the same subject that have come out in the last ten years and save a lot of money. another with an $9,000 advance where i thought, my god, $500,000 should go through this wonderful project. did you think, both of you, about what kind of book can actually afford to do? do i want to do a book that is not the book a really care to do, but i have to do it this way because i don't have enough money for the research. i can't go any further. and not just your own case, but when you think of other projects, the nonfiction writers, how much should a writer be bound by what is affordable? >> we are in the kitchen now.
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>> i'll be completely honest with you. i did not take money into account at all when i conceived the book, when i planned the book and started writing the book. i should have because i needed the money. i still need the money. i think that the part of me who wrote this proposal and you wanted to write the book was determined to write it one way or another. if it took, as is of those projected, 15 years, then i'll have to work 15 years on it. but it is the only booked that i need to write this piece of the money part of it i did not take into account. i probably should have, and maybe i will next time around. i was just so delighted and grateful that the publisher wanted to publish it

Book TV
CSPAN July 17, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm EDT

2011 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards Education. (2011) Eliza Griswold; Alex Tizon; Isabel Wilkerson.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 12, United States 5, Rome 5, Taylor 4, Joe Mozingo 4, Georgia 4, Los Angeles 4, Brazil 4, Tony Lucas 3, Louisiana 3, Ferdinand Magellan 2, Paul Greenberg 2, Clinton 2, Eliza Griswold 2, Alex Tizon 2, Narrative Nonfiction 2, Isabel Wilkerson 2, Pakistan 2, Washington D.c. 2, America 2
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